I picked up a copy of Beijing’s 1983 Statistical Yearbook Sunday morning in panjiayuan. [n.b. I overpaid. He asked for 20, and I gave him 15 yuan, which is less than US$2 for something that has much more value than that for me. On the other hand, I forgot that demand for this book is essentially limited to … well … probably me. If I didn’t buy it, no one would. I should have had it for 5 yuan, 10 at the most.]
Fun facts from the yearbook: The total population of the municipality (which includes not just the city proper but a number of outlying counties) was 9.54 million, 209,000 of whom are not usual residents in the city (definition unclear to me at the moment). 5.47 million people worked in non-agricultural sectors compared to 3.86 million in agriculture. Beijing consumed 6.3% of all beer consumed in the country and 6.1% of all televisions, yet had 12.8% of the cars.
If only I had lots of space left in my luggage, I would load up on yearbooks….
Also at panjiayuan, I found an original gift and a very interesting young artist who fills massive canvases with haunting images. One piece has a man crouching with his head in his hands. This is repeated four times with his purple shadow seems to grow from right to left as does his desperation on the green background. Another has a child looking down from a raised platform of some sort onto a flood of identical children who are looking up at him/her. The ackground is a sunset on the stark Tibetan landscape. Amidst the immense amount of junk at panjiayuan, these finds remind me why it remains my favorite market in Beijing.
The research is moving ahead. I hardly ever believe that I am “discovering” anything fundamentally new, but seeing how my own thoughts have developed, my understanding has increased, and how other works fail to synthesize necessary topics, the accretion of knowledge and expertise is fundamental to discovery.
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